McSwiggen & Associates  

What is the difference between an electron microprobe and
a scanning electron microscope?


Scanning electron microscopes and electron microprobes are both capable of high resolution electron imaging. They differ primarily in the range of their analytical capabilities. Electron microprobes have wavelength dispersive spectrometers (WDS), which dramatically out-perform energy dispersive spectrometers (EDS) on a typical scanning electron microscope. A wavelength dispersive spectrometer will:

provide greatly improved energy resolution, significantly reducing overlaps between X-ray lines (see Qualitative Analysis),
improve the detectability of the elements, pushing the minimum detection limits into the 0.01 weight percent range for most of the periodic table, and
produce much better results on light element analyses (see Beryllium, Boron, Oxygen, and Carbon).
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